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Candice Patton has played the female lead on The Flash since the show’s inception in 2014. That’s a long time in the evolution of a TV show. It’s an even longer time in the evolution of how social justice issues are addressed in some parts of Hollywood, according to Patton.
The actress, who plays journalist Iris West-Allen, recalled recently on The Open Up Podcast that in the early days of the Arrowverse series, fans’ racism toward her was shrugged off by the CW and Warner Bros.
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“In 2014, there were no support systems,” she said, “no one was looking out for that. It was just free range to get abused every single day.”
Being one of the first Black actresses through the door in the DC TV Universe was not easy, according to Patton.
“It’s a dangerous place to be in when you’re one of the first, and you’re facing backlash for it and there’s no help,” she continued. “Now, people understand a little better and they understand how fans can be racist, especially in genre, and misogynistic. But at the time it was kind of like: ‘Yeah that’s how fans are, but whatever.'”
Some genre fans, it seems, may not have changed much given the recent experience of Obi-Wan Kenobi actress Moses Ingram. But Ingram’s co-star Ewan McGregor and those behind the Star Wars franchise made it clear she had their support.
Patton says her experience in the early years of The Flash were somewhat different.
“With the companies I was working with like CW and Warner Brothers, that [‘whatever’] was their way of handling it. I think we know better now that it’s not okay to treat your talent that way and to let them go through this abuse and harassment.”
Dealing with fan racism and alleged lack of support quickly wore on her.
“I wanted to leave the show as early as season two. I remember being like: ‘I can’t do this, I’m not gonna make it through, I’m severely unhappy.’ ”
She said she was treated differently than white actors.
“It was more about the protocols in place and the things I see happening for my white counterpart that’s not happening to me,” Patton said. “Seeing how I was treated differently than other people. Seeing how I’m not protected by the network and the studio. Those were the things that not necessarily hurt me but frustrated me.”
Deadline reached out to Warner Bros. TV and CW and will add any comment we receive.
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